Vocational counselors are also often referred to as employment or career counselors. They essentially help persons assess their skills and interests in order to locate the best professional opportunities. Although the focus of vocational counselor jobs is basically the same throughout, specific tasks and work environments can range considerably. Places of employment for vocational counselors include colleges and universities, government agencies and non-profit organizations. The work environment generally dictates the scope of responsibilities.
Persons in vocational counselor jobs provide career and educational counseling to both individuals and groups of people. Those persons who seek vocational counseling are of all ages and backgrounds. Counselors employ assessment tests that look at interests, aptitudes and personalities to match ideal careers to clients. Additional insight to a clients’ potential in the job market is gained from interviews and counseling sessions.
Vocational counselors at the collegiate level may be called career placement counselors. Those persons often provide assistance regarding career, personal and educational development. Counselors in these settings often work closely with other individuals to prepare students for professional work. This may involve coordinating job fairs, overseeing career information centers or simply contacting prospective employers. Some who work in vocational counselor jobs also work with college students who have special academic and social needs.
A large number of vocational counselor jobs can often be found within national and local government agencies as well. Persons in these positions frequently assist with such programs as unemployment, veterans’ affairs and welfare. The most common focus of these individuals is to help clients make career decisions. Vocational counselors thus evaluate a client’s education, work history and special training. They then can help those individuals develop refined job-search skills and locate and apply for jobs.
Vocational counselors may also provide support for persons experiencing job stress, job loss, difficulty finding employment and other career transition issues. Vocational rehabilitation counselors often help people who have mental or physical disabilities. Work environments in this area include non-profit organizations and rehabilitation offices. Clients who seek help from vocational rehab counselors may have suffered discrimination at a previous workplace, struggled with drug or alcohol addictions, or have previous criminal convictions.
Persons often need professional degrees in counseling or psychology to qualify for vocational counselor jobs. This helps a person establish his or her niche within the field as well as develop relevant skills. Working with college students, for example, likely requires different skills than working with disabled persons. Knowledge of career counseling, human behavior and performance and current employment trends are but some common requirements of vocational counselors.
A vocational counselor job description might entail the following tasks: assess needs for assistance in clients, instruct individuals in resume writing and interview skills, address community groups to explain available vocational counseling services, and conduct follow-up interviews with counselees to determine if their needs have been met. Many vocational counselors work in an office where they see clients throughout the day. Depending upon job requirements, counselors may also need to provide services within the community. In addition to education, licensure requirements often differ by location and work setting.